ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. Bantay KalikasanIt has been an uphill battle for Bantay Kalikasan in its efforts to keep its livelihood project in Brooke’s Point in Palawan. Not only have companies with interests in mining been bombarding broadsheet space with a myriad negative publicity directed to its Managing Director Gina Lopez, but the very organization that should have been its partner and supporter for the benefit of the province is now coming out with its own statements from insisting that it was Bantay Kalikasan that carried out the cutting of trees near Sabsaban Falls to claiming that the indigenous people (IPs) are against the project. According to Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Executive Director Romeo B. Dorado, they have “overwhelming video and photo evidence” of the cutting of trees by Bantay Kalikasan.
First of all, maybe Mr. Dorado should take a very good look at the photos and video in his possession so he can clearly see that it was the representatives of the local government, the Community Environment and Natural Resources ( CENRO) and DENR who carried out the clearing of hazardous dead and dying trees at Brooke’s point. Bantay Kalikasan never cut any trees. How could it, it is the same organization that reforested thousands of hectares of La Mesa watershed.
Second, Mr. Dorado claims that the indigenous people are against the eco academy project. Which IP group is he referring to? Is this the same group that did nothing when the falls was littered with broken bottles, cigarette butts and garbage? The same group that endorsed mining Mt. Matalingahan, a protected area? As far as Bantay Kalikasan is concerned, it has the support of true and real IPs who are ready to embrace eco tourism as an alternative livelihood source because it is more environmentally sound than having mining in their area.
PCSD claims that it had been fair and that it is only exercising its legal and moral duty when it claims that Bantay Kalikasan violated an administrative order, yet they reduce Ms. Lopez’s defense of her organization as a mere rant and accuse her of lying.
Maybe it is about time that the PCSD tell the truth why it is so against the eco tourism project in Brooke’s Point. Is it truly an issue of failing to secure a permit or having a project like this goes against the interest of people who are benefiting from the coffers of the mining industry - - people within PCSD’s backyard? With election season just around the bend, it might be good for the public to know the real motivation of the railroading of a simple livelihood project that intends to protect the environment while providing jobs for indigenous people and ordinary folk. If PCSD is sincerely for sustainable development in Palawan, then it is puzzling why instead of throwing its support, it reduced its efforts to mudslinging an organization that could have been an avid partner for Palawan’s development.